budget video hacks

So you want to make an amazing video, but your budget isn’t massive? No sweat!

The greatest videos aren’t necessarily the ones that have the resources and production values worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. They’re the ones with heart.

That’s good news if you don’t have a huge budget. And here’s some more news that’ll make you smile – we’re going to show you how to do it.

In this post, we’ll share six practical, easy to follow ways to make a killer video with limited resources. In no time at all, you’ll be ready to make engaging, shareable videos that gets your audience talking.

Get the set you want by filming on location.

There’s no way around it – sets cost money. Even a basic setup, with a backdrop and lighting, can add up. That’s assuming you even have the space for it to begin with!

Depending on the type of video you’re making, you might not even get that much mileage out of the set you painstakingly built. Simply put, sets are not always good value for the money.

Outdoors

As an alternative, filming outside is nearly always free or very cheap. The only instance where it might cost a little is if you need a permit. Most state parks and other public lands do require permits, so be sure to check local laws and regulations where you live.

By taking advantage of natural lighting and settings, you can create many different types of videos outdoors at no or low cost for the space.

When you’re planning your ideal outdoor location, take the following issues into consideration:

  • Noise levels
  • Traffic (people and transport)
  • Best time of day for your ideal light
  • Weather

Indoors

If an indoor location is what works best for your video, you still have a few options.

Try asking your network to find locations you can take advantage of for free. Assure your contacts you won’t disrupt their daily work, and are happy to be guided by them as to the best time for filming. You might be asked to pay a small fee, so set a budget for yourself before you start asking around.

Public high schools, libraries, and community centers often have rooms you can reserve for no or low cost. Sometimes, they even have audio and visual equipment you can take advantage of.

Be sure to scout your options carefully – just because it’s available doesn’t mean it’s right for your project. 

Utilize your team members’ strengths.

If your business is small, you probably won’t have dedicated team members for each element of production. Still, there could be people in your team who have the skills to put together a good script, a professional storyboard, or a compelling marketing strategy.

Before outsourcing, see what you can do in-house. We’ve put together 14 Crucial Steps to Market Videos for Free on Your Own for anyone who wants to add this skill to their work!

Make your own voiceover studio.

This is easier and cheaper than you probably think! Your aim is simply to create a space that’s silent.

Find a space that’s already relatively quiet, and make it into a voiceover studio by soundproofing the walls with egg crate foam, heavy vinyl material and fiberglass panels. You can always soundproof a small part of the room if you don’t need much space to operate, or don’t have many soundproofing materials available. 

If this is too expensive – or permanent – then cover walls and windows with heavy curtains. Stick couch pillows to walls that let in noise, or build a soundproof fort. Switching off fluorescent lights, electronics, heating and aircon is also effective at reducing background noise.

If your budget is really tight, record your voiceover in a closet! The clothing will stop the sound waves from bouncing. For more hacks, head over to our post How to Create a Professional Voiceover on the Cheap.  

Support amateur actors.

Rather than paying for the services of professional actors, you could enlist the help of your team. But, that might not result in the polished video you’re aiming for.

It’s a much better idea to make connections with organizations that can put you in contact with talented people who have experience. Try local amateur dramatic societies and university drama departments. Mandy’s Film and TV Production Directory and Backstage are useful online resources for finding actors who are happy to use your video production as an opportunity to gain experience.

amateur actors

Be sure to make the payment rate clear from the outset. There are many rules around working with union actors, so we recommend familiarizing yourself with them before casting. Union vs. Non-Union:
Know What You’re Getting Into
is a good beginner’s guide.

Buy, rent or borrow the best equipment you can.

If you don’t have the equipment you need, there are three options – borrowing, renting or buying. Your long term video strategy will dictate which is best for you.

If you intend to make videos regularly, then it’s likely best to buy. Check out what’s available used or refurbished. If possible, take an expert with you to make sure the equipment is in good working order before you purchase.

Time your purchase wisely. You could buy the latest hardware and software, or you could wait until a new product release. This way, you’ll bag a bargain on items that were the latest and most up-to-date until very recently.

When it comes to lighting, we’ve got some good news. Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. What’s important is knowing how to use the equipment correctly. You can achieve a good effect using ordinary lights with adjustable heads. Spend time familiarizing yourself with our 7 Quick Steps for Simple Affordable Lighting.

Feeling handy? Get busy with DIY!

From lighting, to backdrops, and even camera stabilization, there are a ton of DIY options out there. If you’re crafty, and willing to put some time into it, DIY is a great way to go.

For instance, we loved this solution from Lifehacker: DIY water-bottle tripod. (Note: this will only work if your video camera is ultra light.)

DIY video hacks

For lighting, you can look around at what you already have for light sources. Then, supplement with foam board, natural light, or softly reflective surfaces to get the look you want.

Come up with your own hacks!

As you make more video, you’ll acquire new skills, and build on your knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Over time, you’ll get a feel for the things that are worth spending more money on, and where you can economize.

Working with other videomakers is another great way to learn even more tricks of the trade. Also, set aside a couple of hours a week to read your favorite video blogs. These are often a useful source of information on clever video production hacks.


If you’ve come up with some tips on making video on a budget, let others in the video making community know! Share your budget video hacks by commenting below or on Twitter!

Written by Laci Texter

SproutVideo blog contributor. You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Posted February 13, 2017

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